First, Merry Belated Christmas...And Happy New Year to you and yours...
Friendly had a bad night. I am SO over bad nights. But while I laid awake (after giving up on sleep) I started thinking on this, and it was kind of keeping me up.
I was pondering my generation, in my family. Pondering what I've learned from the Mother's before me, and what I hope my daughters will learn from me. I hope I am never a cautionary tale.
I have a kind of distant relative, we'll call her Sarah, who has really been on my heart. Sarah met married her husband at Bible college. He was studying to become a pastor, and she a teacher. The got married, graduated and had a couple kids...In the midst of that he was pursuing his M. Div (masters of divinity) degree, and I believe an associate pastor at a small church. When he finished his degree they moved to another state a couple hundred miles away. They had another baby. They were super super involved in the church he was associate pastor at. They lived in a close knit Midwest town with long winters. She home schooled their children. On the outside they looked like the "perfect" Christian family. blegh. But things weren't so perfect, they never are, they aren't supposed to be. It came out that Sarah's husband was struggling with pornography. When he confessed this (and I assume asked for help) to the head pastor at his church, things turned ugly. Instead of grace he was shamed, not just privately but publicly and more or less fired from his position of associate pastor. It was a low blow, 4 children to care for and out of a job. Things were rough. I don't know all the details from that time. I don't claim to know what was going on in the relationships in that family, I just heard scattered whispered conversations from the grownups in the family, and from my cousin who was brave enough to ask what was going on.
There's more. He did find a job, and they got pregnant with baby number 5. There were complications the whole pregnancy and at at 21 or 22 weeks Sarah was hospitalized for pre-term labor. She was hospitalized for 5 weeks when a little girl just couldn't wait to be born and arrived weighing just 2lbs 10oz. Either was she was micro, teeny, tiny baby. She was a fighter.
2 months in the NICU and she was home. I can't imagine how stressful that time was for the family...Back and forth to the NICU daily, lots of hospital bills (though thankfully [?] baby was 1 oz under the limit where the state would cover the costs for her care, but there were still bills).
13mos later a little surprise arrived. A feisty, healthy, full term baby boy. Sarah had 6 children 2 under the age of one (technically) 10 mos (adjusted age) and a newborn. I don't know what the community was like surrounding her, I don't know if they rallied around her to support her. But I have a feeling that if they handled the things with her husband so horribly...Well either way, I'm sure it wasn't nearly enough. I can't imagine how heart wrenching those years must have been, how overwhelming!
And then...It was Christmas Eve, Sarah was making Christmas dinner and a fire broke out in the kitchen. Getting to be like a Lifetime Movie, no?
Thankfully no one was hurt, just a bit of fire damage on the one kitchen wall. The fire department came and had them ship shape and I assume they had a fairly nice Christmas...Then the new year broke. The insurance appraiser came to check out the fire damage and while there discovered mold. Mold all over the house. Toxic, rare, deadly mold. They had to be evacuated immediately... SIX months later still living in a hotel (and I won't even go into all the craziness of that time) a church in the area had a house come available that they could live in for a time. The insurance company kept dragging their feet, first they were going to just do a treatment to kill the mold. Then they couldn't. Then they refused because it would be too expensive...If you've ever tried to get money from insurance company for some thing odd, you know it can be like pulling teeth, and drag out for a LONG time. Well at least they had a place to stay so they could get back on their feet. What a time!
It eventually turned out the house (which wasn't that old) had to be condemned. They sold the property and decided to head east to be closer to family. They were burnt out, understatement. Sarah's husband got a job driving trucks: local routes. And she started teaching full-time in a (very very very legalistic) Christian School, her children (the youngest 2 staying with grandma since they weren't yet school age), were able to attend with reduced tuition (ridiculous!). They also had to attend the church that was part of the school. It was a crazy few years. The school treated Sarah horribly, she had to be at every school event (even the elementary productions even though she taught high school math), and she had to attend services and be involved in a ministry. This on top of parenting 6 children and the HUGE amount of work involved in being a teacher (even for a moderately sized Christian school).
Long story short (and a few years into this grueling merry go round), Sarah snapped. She had stopped being a wife to her husband some time before, they lived as room mates. She quit her job at the school and got 2 part time jobs, trying to make ends meet. Her new jobs were better for her, the one job kept her physically active and she lost quite a bit of weight. She started an affair. She filed for divorce. Sarah still lives with her husband (it takes 2 years generally from start of divorce hearings etc) she technically isn't supposed to be living in the same house as her husband, but she has no where else to go...And I think in some ways she feels that she deserves the house after the hell she's been through, she won't leave, and neither will he... The 4 children they have left at home are stuck in the middle.
It's a tough situation. Sarah's husbands family are appalled and heartbroken by her behavior. They are angry at her and are not speaking to her.
I'm not angry at her. I want to cry for her.
What is wrong with these "Christians"? She endured abuse after abuse and when she realized those around her who were supposed to love and support her, and help her carry her burdens, were judging, and pulling her deeper...She acted out and broke free. Did she make good choices? No. But given the hell she'd been through, they make a lot of sense.
What breaks my heart is that she, and her children have a skewed view of grace, of God...Or Jesus.
Her story breaks my heart. I wish I could reach out, I am waiting for a chance to reach out and say "I'm so sorry, you deserved so much better." There is so much more that I would want to say to her too, and I hope I'll some day get a chance.
There are some things I really wanted to talk about in closing...But a snow storm is on the way and I need to run and grab some groceries.
I'll write my conclusion soon...There are some things I wanted to talk about. Generations, the things we learn from them...How I hope I, and my generation, will be different than the ones before us. There were so many things that women just took, still take because "that's what you do", especially in Christian circles. I'll write more soon.